NBA Street Vol. 2

NBA Street Vol. 2

Only two kinds of sports games exist in this world: simulation and arcade. While development teams struggle every year to capture basketball’s nuances, courtside thrills, statistically accurate details, and high-flying heroics, more often than not, it’s an arcade-inspired game that comes along and trumps those efforts.

In the beginning, or close to it, was NBA Jam, which, until Acclaim wrecked the series, was the defining arcade brawler/baller. Next came Midway’s NBA Showtime. But neither Jam nor Showtime rule the court any more; NBA Street (particularly Vol. 2) is the new clown prince of hoops action.

Street boils down to an intense, ultra-pumped game of 3-on-3 action, with the first team to score 21 points winning (one point for normal shots, two for shots made behind the arc). Street’s X-factor is the Gamebreaker shot that, if successful, subtracts a point from the opposing team’s score while adding it to the shooting team’s tally.

What keeps Street hot in any of its addictive modes is its tight controls, great graphics, and awesome play-by-play commentary (you go, Bobbito!). A quick run through the painless tutorial brings you up to speed on the game’s special moves and gets you ready for the main events.

Gamers will first want to explore the Be A Legend mode, which takes your created player through a gauntlet of basketball’s most famous cities (New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc.) and dishes out skill points for every win. Using these points to upgrade your baller from a no-skills chump to a virtual Vince Carter is crazy fun, and when the character is used to form a custom team’s core, which you then put through the NBA Challenge, Street is practically flawless. Progression in this mode—against real NBA teams and players—rewards you with secret characters (like Nelly), retro jerseys and players, and other super-slick Easter eggs. Street’s only drawback (besides lack of online play) is its quick transitions; the controls make switching to the desired defensive player troublesome (imagine trying to block Shaq while you’re stuck with Jason Kidd). Besides that gassy little burp, this is the best b-ball game you’ll play all year. For reals.

Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in GMR Magazine.